One of the busiest cities in the world, New York City has long been known for its horrendous traffic and subsequently, car accidents. 3.49 individuals are killed by cars in New York City per every 100,000 residents. This ranks New York City as the twelfth most dangerous city in the world for car accidents. In comparison, large cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong are all ranked below New York City.
To combat the death rates and increase vehicle occupant and pedestrian safety in the city, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) launched the Sustainable Streets plan in early 2008. In conjunction with the Mayor’s office, the DOT detailed a new transportation policy for the city.
The initial goals of Sustainable Streets were numerous. Decreasing traffic fatalities was the number one goal. However, other goals included addressing city-wide parking issues, encouraging bicycle use, and developing a car sharing fleet for DOT employees.
In the plan, the DOT pledged to follow through with 164 specific actions. Many of these actions involved implementing smaller scale plans. For instance:
• The DOT focused on increasing safety for two vulnerable populations – seniors and children – by launching Safe Streets for Seniors and Safe Routes to Schools.
• In order to improve safety and reduce congestion in more heavily trafficked areas like Times Square, the DOT launched the Green Light for Midtown plan.
• The DOT also worked in conjunction with NYC Transit to increase bus routes.
• To encourage biking and reduce car congestion, the DOT installed 90 miles of bike lanes, which resulted in a 35% increase in biking in 2008.
• To make popular streets like Park Avenue more accessible to pedestrians, the DOT launched the Summer Streets program, which shuts down 7 miles of streets on Saturdays in August.
• The DOT also re-designed certain intersections and roadways to decrease congestion and increase safety by adding lanes, changing traffic light times, and adding medians for pedestrians.
• The DOT redesigned public spaces in high-traffic areas to assist pedestrians and provide more room and safety for them. Some popular areas include Madison Square and the Manhattan Bridge.
• In order to reduce the number of DOT fleet cars on the street, the DOT cut parking privileges for 20% of its cars and reduced its fleet by 10% by promoting car sharing.
• The DOT also worked on creating clearer lines of communication with the government and the public through a redesign of its website and the implementation of various outreach programs like its DOT Academy.
After a successful year in 2009 that saw a 35% reduction in traffic fatalities in New York City, the DOT began implementing new goals for its Sustainable Streets plan. Some of these new goals include: increasing reduced speed school zones in the city, implementing real-time bus tracking for NYC Transit buses, helping NYC City Council pass bicycle and bicycle parking legislation designed to promote bicycle commuting, expanding the ferry network with new docks, expanding the Summer Streets street closure program to additional streets and dates, and providing real-time information on traffic speeds, traffic conditions, and accidents on its website.
The New York City DOT recognizes that transportation in a busy city like New York City involves coordinating the interests of drivers, public transit commuters, bicycle commuters, and pedestrians. The DOT is working hard to improve services for all individuals who travel through the city in order to increase the flow of traffic during rush hour, protect individuals crossing the street on foot, and encourage more environmentally friendly ways of commuting like bicycling to work. The DOT is committed to working alongside community leaders, government agencies, and other private entities in order to provide greater access to services.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contact a skilled personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC today to discuss your potential claims.
Sustainable Streets, New York City Department of Transportation, http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/about/stratplan.shtml.